Canada’s House of Commons (File photo)

Canada’s House of Commons (File photo)

COVID-19 pandemic sparks calls for progressive federal policies

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly is calling for the implementation of a guaranteed livable income

The economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have reinvigorated calls for progressive policy on Parliament Hill.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly recently called for a guaranteed livable income (GLI) for all Canadians. Manly advocated for the policy in the April 20 sitting of the House of Commons.

“A GLI is not a radical idea, it’s an idea whose time has come. Imagine a safety net that catches everyone,” Manly said. “… It’s an idea that has gained support across the political spectrum because it is a sound and sensible thing to do.”

Manly’s GLI proposal would replace a ‘patchwork’ of federal support programs with a single, universal cash benefit.

A Green Party backgrounder on GLI states that it would replace welfare payments, disability supports, the Old Age Supplement (OAS), the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), the Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), and the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCB). Employment insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), child care subsides, social housing, drug benefits, and dental care would not be impacted.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) spent $118.4 billion on those social programs in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Departmental expenditures for ESDC were $2.4 billion in voted grants and contributions, and $2.2 billion went to Employment Insurance.

Manly acknowledged that disabled people should not have their funding reduced or negatively impacted by any GLI model.

“Some disabled people have high expenses in terms of the equipment need and the pharmaceuticals they need. Those kinds of things would be covered,” Manly said.

He said a GLI payment would eliminate administrative costs associated with the programs.

“A big chunk of that money goes toward a bureaucracy that decides who gets that money and who doesn’t. We’re spending a ton of money right now on civil servants, and on redesigning software and systems at CRA and Service Canada to deal with these programs that are changing weekly,” Manly said.

The proposed GLI would ‘completely disappear’ by the time Canadians earned $60,000 or more, Manly said. The idea of a GLI is to create an income floor for Canadians so they could pay for their cost of living. GLI payments would be calculated based on the affordable income of specific communities, for example the GLI payment in Vancouver would be larger than the payment in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be the spark for revitalized conversations around GLI, but Manly said COVID-19 won’t be the only economic interruption that Canadians will face.

“It’s not just crises, it’s changes in the work force. We’re dealing with more automation, we’re dealing with artificial intelligence. People are losing their jobs because of these things, and we’re going to lose more jobs,” Manly said.

He cited how current requirements to qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are leaving some workers without support.

“Now you’re allowed to earn up to $1,000 and you can still get your $2,000 benefit. But if you make $1,010, your cheque disappears on you. You can’t tell me that’s a fair system,” Manly said.

The NDP has echoed that perspective. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called on the federal government to make access to CERB universal so any Canadian who needs support can receive it.

“We have said from the beginning that the simplest and most effective way to ensure that no one is missed or left behind is to send support directly to all Canadians,” Singh said in the House of Commons on April 29.

“Absent that, we have said that if the government is not willing to have a universal basic income for Canadians during this crisis, then at least make the CERB universal.”

NDP House Leader Peter Julian said that there are too many obstacles for individuals trying to access government support.

“This reinvigorates the idea that we need to have in place a simple emergency response benefit that everybody who needs it can actually get it,” he said.

“The idea for a universal basic benefit in this pandemic is a model for how we can build a much kinder society that leaves nobody behind coming out of this.”

Julian said that the COVID-19 pandemic provides the greatest opportunity since the end of World War II to enact progressive policies. Julian is in a favour of a guaranteed livable income for Canadians, but said it depends on which model.

“I come out of the disability community, and many people in the disability community fear what has been proposed by many right-wingers. They propose universal basic income as a way of eliminating all the other social programs that exist. In that sense, I reject the principle that universal basic income should be used to diminish the benefits that so many people survive on today,” Julian said.

“A universal basic income that actually enhances people’s quality of life, and ensures that they can get a full quality of life for them and their families, absolutely I would support that.”

Julian advocates for enhancing existing social programs rather than replacing them. He is also calling for universal pharmacare, affordable housing, dental care, and free post-secondary education. Julian and the NDP say funding for these programs would come from tax revenues generated by wealthy Canadians and corporations.

“This pandemic has proven that resources can be provided to support people. Now is the time for us to envision the kind of country that we all want to see,” Julian said. “I know how progressive people in Ladysmith are, and indeed right across the country. People want to see a better Canada.”

Federal Politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

Vancouver Island Symphony conductor Pierre Simard is releasing his new synthwave album ‘Plandemic’ on March 5. (Photo courtesy Olivia Simard)
Vancouver Island Symphony conductor releasing side-project EP of electronic music

Pierre Simard, recording as Plan Omega, presents ‘Plandemic’

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a B.C. Ferries vessel. (File photo)
Nanaimo ferry passengers who refused to wear masks and caused disturbance fined $460 each

Incident happened Sunday, Feb. 21, aboard the Queen of Cowichan

Beef to the woman walking two dogs that attacked my two small chihuahua dogs along Estevan Road. I was dragged down the embankment with my dogs. All three of us were pinned against the fence by your dogs with no escape route. Your dogs were on retractable leashes that were not appropriate for their size and weight and you had no control over them at all.
Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 24

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement

Lease agreement ‘important first step’ in $105-million Duke Point expansion project

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Nanaimo mom hopes her tattoos will earn her a magazine cover shoot

Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Nanaimo Courthouse. (News Bulletin file photo)
Motorist sentenced to two years for dangerous driving causing death on Gabriola Island

William Goosman pleaded guilty last fall in connection with incident that killed Jay Dearman

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Most Read